Symbols of the world's religions



M. R. Dhakephalkar

Baba used to illustrate His teachings with stories. I remember only three of them which I now recount.


There was a sanyasi. He had a mouse as his pet and would feed him every day. The mouse became fond of him and would visit him quite often.

One day the mouse informed the sanyasi that he was afraid of the cat.

"All right, I'll make you a cat," assured his master and immediately the mouse became a cat. The cat would purr and gambol at the sanyasi's feet.

One day the cat expressed his worst fears about the dog.

"All right, I'll make you a dog," the sanyasi complied with a benign smile. The cat changed into a dog. When he heard the roar of a lion from the neighbouring jungle, the dog became jittery and pleaded with his master, who turned him into a lion.

One day thick clouds gathered in the sky and the peals of thunder made the lion get panicky. He scampered to the sanyasi and told him that he was afraid of the thunder. The sanyasi reproached him.

"You were a mouse; I made you a cat, then a dog and next a lion; still you carry the heart of a mouse and fear everything under the sun. It would be nice if you go back and take your original form."

At once the lion changed into a mouse and lived with the sanyasi happily as before.


Once Narada was sauntering in a town singing the glory of Lord Vishnu on his lyre. He noted with satisfaction a house-holder performing a religious act and felt glad that the inhabitants of the earth were loving God. He stepped into the house. The house-holder was overjoyed at this windfall and received Narada with deference.

Narada was given a place of honour at the feast that followed. On hearing that the host was not blessed with children, Narada rose to his feet and refused to accept food. He went post haste to Lord Vishnu and complained of the injustice done to his devotee.

Lord Vishnu said, "I know nothing about his issues. Go to Chitragupta, he will tell you about his future — whether he will have issues or not."

Wasting no time, Narada hurried to Chitragupta and referred the matter to him. Chitragupta verified the records and said, "Sorry, no issues in this life." Narada became sullen.

Now the scene changes to earth. It is midnight. A sadhu goes about the streets begging for food proclaiming that whosoever gives him bread will be granted children — one for one bread, two for two loaves of bread and so on.

This falls into the ears of the childless house-holder. He invites the sadhu into his house and bids his wife give food to the hungry sadhu. She readily consents and serves him four hot loaves of bread and also offers him delicious dishes. The sadhu is well satisfied and while departing gives his benediction, "You will have four children in fulfilment of my promise."

The pious house-holder is blessed with four children.

Once again Narada calls on the house-holder and finds to his surprise four children running and playing in the house. He questions the house-holder about the children. Pleasantly surprised at the episode Narada makes a dash to Vaikuntha to call for the Lord's explanation.

"What sort of divinity are you! I found four sons with the house-holder quite contrary to Chitragupta's account."

Lord Vishnu smiles and says, "True, there were no issues in the life of this religious man. But he obtained the blessings of a man who loved me for all his life. So, if my devotee gives a certain blessing, I must carry it out because of the love of the devotee for me.

"Narada, you are my greatest devotee and an eternal lover. Had you given blessings to him, I would have certainly fufilled your wish. So, even though there were no issues for the man, because of my love for the devotees and to keep up their words, I had to do it. I always see that the words of my devotees come true."


There was a big temple in a city. A beggar used to sit by the side of the doorway, begging for alms. He could save twenty five rupees in coins and securely put them in a tin pot under his rags. He became ill and feared that he was going to die. Lest his savings should fall into other's hands, he thought it prudent to put all the coins in his mouth and shut it tightly at the time of his death. He did so and died. His body was buried on the banks of a river.

Many days passed by. Playing children picked up his skull and kicked it. The ring of the coins amused them and it was a regular sport for them.

A wily fellow observed all this. He took the skull home, unobserved by anyone, put it in his pooja room and began worshipping it with all attendant formalities.

One day standing with all reverence before the skull, he addressed it, "Look here, the people of this place are very bad. They wanted your money and therefore they kicked you all the time. I have brought you here, worshipped you and now I want to put many more coins in your mouth to increase the amount of your savings."

He stood before the skull with folded hands. The skull opened its mouth. He lost no time and smacked at the back of the skull. The coins rolled down; the cunning man collected them and threw away the skull.

Baba concluded, "Even after one's death one must cling to the love of one's master."


1988,1992 © M. R. Dhakephalkar


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